The last time we heard from Tuaca was back in 2012, when the classic liqueur got an ill-advised brand overhaul, complete with a wholly out-of-place modernized bottle and label. A cinnamon-heavy version called Cinnaster came a year later.
Sazerac bought the brand in 2016 and earlier this year relaunched it — not just with the old label reinstated (or a very similar one, anyway), but with a revamped recipe closer to something like the original Tuaca might have tasted like. To wit:
The brand renaissance starts with what is inside the bottle. Tuaca will once again be made with imported Italian brandy and infused with Mediterranean citrus and vanilla spice.
I had the good fortune to discover I had a mini Tuaca from ~2007 on hand to compare against a new bottle made with the revamped recipe. Let’s give them both a try, head to head, to see how things have changed.
The 2017 Tuaca is clearly darker in color, and the nose is completely different. Rather than simple cinnamon and orange, the aromas are much earthier, with hints of spice box, mushroom, cedar chest, and caramel. That isn’t necessarily a plus — its brooding aroma can be a little off-putting at first.
The palate is, of course, just as different as the nose. While old Tuaca is light and feathery, with a lemon-orange-cinnamon trinity at work, the new one has more complexity, and it’s more engaging. The brandy base gives the spirit a viscosity and a core of cinnamon raisin character, atop which candied orange, cloves, and allspice make an impression. The finish is much more lasting than the older bottle, spicy and warming — the way Tuaca really ought to be.
All in all, the change in recipe is a fantastic move.